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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Prophetic Role Of The Church: Responding The Public Spheres Through Public Theology

 

Reported by Simon Lin

 

In the Panel on Prophetic Role of the Church, a session of the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT on February 16, Professor Zeng Yang-en, a WCC Central Committee member and a church historian from Taiwan Theological Seminary and College, was invited to deliver a speech on the prophetic role of PCT.

Professor Zeng retrieved, since PCT's participation into several ecumenical church bodies from 1951 and under the influence of these ecclesiastic communities, the issues of human rights, social justice, ethnic harmony, environmental protection and etc gradually became the important perspectives of PCT's  understanding of the ecumenical Christian faith.

These ecumenical concerns gradually became the bedrocks of three renown PCT statements, urging Taiwan authorities to respect the self-determination of all Taiwanese people, implement a political reform, and treasure the languages of mother tongue, in the 1970s. The Urban Rural Movement (URM), supported by the ecumenical movement, began to educate social activists and grass-root-workers for Taiwan's social movement in these 1980s.

And the human resources trained by URM also played a very critical role in Taiwan's social reforms afterwards.In the past three decades, Professor Zeng observed, public theology in Taiwan gradually became a very important theological movement. Quoting the remarks of Professor Sebastian Kim, a famous British theologian versed in public theology, contemporary theology has to respond three major interlocutors: church, academy, and the public sphere, which includes government, enterprises, NGOs, and the media, Professor Zeng said.

And the point to engage a public theology decently is offer a fair and balanced viewpoint between church, academy and the public spheres, proposed Professor Zeng, adding that public spheres were usually most easily to be overlooked. Therefore, in addition to traditional theological concerns, such as ethics, pastoral theology, and mission studies, theologians have to consider more about the public dimension of the Christian faith and respond to the issues of public interests or civic society, etc, Professor Zeng said.

Following the end of World War II, the demise of the mainstream Christianity denominations, the increase of the independent churches, and the expansion of cold war's stand-off between communism countries and anti-communism blocs, most Taiwan churches and denominations other than PCT were deeply skeptic and repulsive about ecumenical movement or any theology concerning public issues, Professor Zen observed.

Worse was that, under the negative impacts of KMT's parochial political culture, Taiwan church were cultivated to treat our neighbors from an isolated or even a self-centered perspective overlooking the macroscopic or structural issues, like social justice, ethnic equality, ethical values, and social norms, according to Professor Zeng.

Facing the rise of public theology, Professor Zeng encouraged the audience, not only PCT should carry on her past ministries in kinds of political reform, human rights improvement, immigrant workers, aboriginal peoples, LGBT people, but also respond those critical life and death issues, such as the context of colonialism/post-colonialism, gender issues, economic justice, materialism and consumption culture, ecological concerns and etc, concerning this land and our people.

In order to build up the society's "third sector"(civic society), engaging with the government and the enterprise independently, Taiwan church has to stand by and walk beside the Taiwanese people. Until the civic society could be grown up strong enough to walk in his indispensable role, the church should not stop her prophetic voice to speak out and warn against the possible dangers toward the society, Professor Zeng concluded.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

"Update Of Transitional Justice In Taiwan" Reported In A PCT International Seminar

 

Reported by Umav

 

A session of "Update of Transitional Justice in Taiwan", among the 4-days seminar as "International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today", was opened in the morning on February 15. Two major speakers, Dr Wu Jui-jen, a research fellow of the Institute of Taiwan history in Academia Sinica, and Rev Omi Wilang, a member of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee, was invited to report their respective observation of how transitional justice should be implemented within both the period of white terror period from 1949 to 1991 and the 400 years' historical exploitation on Taiwan aborigines.

After briefing some major horrendous terror events and atrocities committed by KMT, the Chinese Nationalist party led by the dictator Chiang Kai-shek, Dr Wu Jui-jen lamented deeply that up to now there was still not even any KMT perpetrators was convicted in the court. Several times in his reports, Dr Wu lashed out on President Tsai Ing-wen's wariness to chase after these still unidentified perpetrators as she seems too cautious to kick off this urgent and tough job! In the meantime, Dr Wu affirmed that the task of transitional justice in Taiwan should be a grand team work connecting all the necessary resources and networks across diverse sectors and social layers.

Dr Wu also paid his high tributes to what PCT had contributed to Taiwan society, as she is the only existent religious group with civic consciousness. "The only pity is that Taiwan religious group, like PCT possessed with a fervent civic consciousness to speak out for the people, is so scarce!", Dr Wu said, adding that, in order to cast Taiwan as a vibrantly dynamic and diversely democratic society committed to transitional justice, all civic groups in Taiwan should work together with global citizens instead of fighting alone!

Mentioning the legal case of Tama Talum, a aboriginal Bunun hunter prosecuted for possessing hunting rifle illegally, Rev Omi Wilang pointed out this event fully showcased the giant gap between current aboriginal cultures and the actual administrative legalities within the governments in Taiwan.

Quoting the PCT statement, Support of the Indigenous Peoples to Recover Their Rights and Autonomy officially delivered on 18 October 2016, "when we reexamine the indigenous peoples’ mission, we realize that we have made progress in recovering tribal languages and traditional territories and in protecting and raising awareness of their autonomy. However, there remain many instances when the gospel enters the tribes, the cultural artifacts and rituals are arbitrarily deemed evil. These are pejorative concepts and activities. They continue to hurt many indigenous peoples. Through theological reflection, we repent of these mistakes and confess our sins to the nation and to the indigenous peoples", Rev Omi Wilang stressed that the innermost core of historical and transitional justice for the aborigines on Taiwan is just let the aborigines "take back what they originally have from the very beginning!".

Ms Gemma Cruz, the respondent of this session of transitional justice, expressed she was extremely impressed by a critical difference, explained by Rev Omi Wilang, about a nuance generated between "balay(truth)" and "s'balay(reconciliation)", especially when the aborigines struggled with the government to restore a historical truth and search for a permanent peace in reconciliation. Ms Cruz agreed that, for the sake of justice, the Taiwan aborigines absolutely deserve to speak out more about those suppressed voices and subjective interpretations of their colonized past in sufferings.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Today's PCT Context As A Kairos For PCT Mission

 

Reported by Lin Yi-yin

 

At the seminar meeting entitled as "Today's PCT Context", which is the first session of the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT, Professor Zeng Yang-en reports an ecclesiastical viewpoint on PCT's contemporary mission. Professor Zeng, a member of WCC Central Committee and also a distinguished church historian of Taiwan Theological Seminary and College, points out PCT are under multi-dimensional challenges in current Taiwan contexts.

These challenges and impacts includes the identity of Taiwan as a country, the Taiwanese identity, threatening of cultural monotony via globalization, technological materialism, consumption culture, bankruptcy of traditional values, the demise of the network of interpersonal relationships and etc.

In order to launch a brand new strategy for PCT's mission today, Prof Zeng suggests, a more inclusive agenda to accommodate contextual concerns and issues becomes urgent for PCT, such as how to materialize our contextualized theologies and weld the Christian faith into the Taiwanese traditional worship & ritual, ethnic relationship, and gender issues; how to honor the subjectivity of each people; how to practice the ideal of "gender equality" and work out a new culture of "bi-sexual joint-management"; how to empower an "awakening, reforming and transforming" faith revival from within the wall of the church and etc.

In the meantime, Prof Hsiao Sin-huang, a senior counselor to the Presidential Office  and an renown sociologist from Academia Sinica, indicates there were five distinctive shifts of social paradigm emerged from Taiwan island since 1980s: beginning of a citizen society, built-up of a democracy, multiplicity of ethnic peoples, emergence of identities on different ethnic people, and proposal for a sustainable ecological development.

Prof Hsiao also stresses there is no way to consolidate Taiwan's democracy in a permanent peace without facing the challenges and conundrums from various social dimensions, such as China's military threatening, Taiwan's diplomatic isolation and blockade from China and International communities, economical inequality, welfare of immigrant labor, unequal development between urban and rural areas, gender justice, pro and con for death penalty, self-identity and etc.

In order to reduce the possible conflicts and reach an inclusive consensus in Taiwan society, a highly patient social dialogue and an inclusive mutual respect between the concerned parties would be the most healthy way for everyone's interest, concludes Prof Hsiao.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Rev Dr Collin Cowan, General Secretary Of CWM, Challenges PCT To Speak Out For The Marginalized Without Voice

 

Reported by Lin Yi-yin

 

In his keynote speech, entitled as "Discerning the role of PCT in the unfolding Taiwan" among the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT, Rev Dr Collin Cowan earnestly challenged PCT if she would take up her responsibility as a prophet to speak out for the marginalized, especially when the immigrant workers are inhumanly treated, exploited, abused and even raped by their employers in Taiwan.

"To let the voices of those suffered be heard, PCT has to engage Taiwan society as a prophet and raise up the banners of justice and peace for those marginalized without voices!", Rev Dr Collin Cowan solemnly unveiled the theme of his keynote speech to the audience.

Taiwan's Gross Domestic Product(GDP) in 2015 was less than 1%, though, her investment in China reached an unnerved 40%, Rev Dr Collin Cowan straightly pointed out that such an imbalanced economic structure exasperated the unemployment of the youth and prompted some infrastructure industries to keep relying more heavily on immigrant workers with low wages.

But a more miserable truth was that these 600,000 immigrant workers, mostly from south-eastern asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine, Thailand, Vietnam and etc, were not honored by Taiwan society for their irreplaceable contribution to support the faltering economics, Rev Dr Collin Cowan remarked, instead they were usually stigmatized as wrongdoer, offender or even criminal and accordingly those exploitation and abuses imposed upon them were easily silenced, neglected, or even swept under the rug!

Various hardships confronted these immigrant workers in Taiwan, as President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her concerns several times in her public speech and noted by Rev Dr Collin Cowan, includes serious overtime, hazardous environments, incredibly low-paid jobs, abuse, sudden death due to accident, violence, rape, absence of labor insurance, and high commissions to labor agents.

Rev Dr Collin Cowan encouraged 1,244 churches of PCT to care more about the sufferings and wants of all inhabitants across this island. Let more people in sufferings encounter God to find out their own lives' meanings in God's infinite generosity and compassionate presence inside diverse cultures, races, and religions on this beautiful island, Rev Dr Collin Cowan called, just like the inflicted and helpless church without the shepherd could still cry out to God face to face through the spiritual strength and passionate hope blessed from God!

"Are we ready?!", Rev Dr Collin Cowan asked the audience at site with two questions further: What we Christians see though the eyes of those children and youth suffered by all these unbearable looting and exploitation on themselves? While the people anticipate to be saved from all kinds of devastations such as theft, robbery, killing and ravaging, what are the actual solutions of PCT? These two questions have to be replied seriously if we want to discern the role of PCT in the unfolding Taiwan, Rev Dr Collin Cowan concluded in his speech.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 

Rev Dr Collin Cowan, General Secretary Of CWM, stressed an attitude of constantly think and review should be a common stance of contemporary church to deal with all kinds challenges lying ahead. It means to use our spiritual insight, based on God's wisdom and spiritual practices, to learn the quintessence under all superficial phenomenons. Especially, when people are under special social and political circumstances, such spiritual insights could help us to understand God's will and our destiny in that particular context.

Photo by Lin Yi-yin

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Speak Out The Prophetic Voice And Fight For The Marginalized - "International Forum on the Mission of the Church In Taiwan Today" Launched In Mid-February By PCT

 

Reported by Lin Jin-chia

 

In order to identify and search the future directions of the church ministries in Taiwan, an unprecedented seminar, entitled as "International Forum on the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today", was held by PCT's General Assembly Office at Presbyterian Bible College from February 13 to 17.

Through a very fine organization by Dr Victor Wan-chi Hsu, PCT's Associate General Secretary, about 190 respectable pastors, elders, theologians, scholars, and representatives, from 42 ecumenical churches and institutes around the world, were invited to take part into this historical PCT seminar to discuss Taiwan's current social, economic and political situations and the urgent ecumenical issues, like transitional justice, gender justice, economic justice, climate change, youth role in the church, the role of church as the prophet, ecumenical cooperation in church partnership and etc.

In the forum's opening service, unveiled by the renown string musics orchestra of Der-Seng Presbyterian Church of So-shan Presbytery and praised Tayal Presbytery's Shepherd Chorus, Rev Sudu Tada, Moderator of PCT General Assembly, delivered his sermon in a subject as "Let's Eat Together!" encouraging ecumenical partner churches and PCT to accommodate each other in God's love.

Rev Lyim Hong-tiong, General Secretary of PCT, said 2016 is a brand new start for Taiwan as President Tsai Ing-wen became the first female President in Taiwan history and the Goliath-like KMT lost its majority in the Congress. Facing these critical changes and issues occurred inside Taiwan's domestic environment, be it  social, economic or political, PCT expects to work with ecumenical partner churches to figure out the meanings and visions of "the Mission of the Church in Taiwan".

Dr François Chih-chung Wu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Department, was invited to address to this international assembly and give his best wishes and warm welcome to all participating members. Dr Wu said, in 2016, Taiwan had achieved the third party alternation in the presidential election and had been accredited as the most free countries, even surpassing the ranking of US, after a decade of efforts, and this is a very remarkable achievement! During the development of Taiwan's democracy after 1987, Dr Wu highly confirmed and appreciated the pioneering contributions made by PCT.

In the concluding session of this international forum, hosted by Rev Christopher Ferguson, General Secretary of WCRC, and Professor Albert Lin, a famous human rights campaigner for love and non-violence, many comments reflected their understanding and sympathy about why PCT proposed Taiwan's self-determination because it is the best way to stand by Taiwan society, her suffering history under colonial regimes and the people's zealous quest for freedom and democracy.

To clarify the priority between PCT's ecumenical projects and her domestic ministries, promote more ecumenical and cross-denominational cooperation, and improve PCT's relationships with China's church, some ecumenical partner churches even suggested to set up a regular Taiwan Ecumenical Forum as a platform for civics activities and dialogues.

As Taiwan's isolated colonial history and why PCT had to take up the cross and the suffering of the Taiwanese people were further understood through this international seminar, many ecumenical partner churches pledged to work with PCT, under a common vision that God blesses us an abundant living life, fighting against the globalized empire and its all forms of injustice!

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 

All participants of the international Forum on the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today take a big rally photograph at Presbyterian Bible College on 16 February 2017.

Photo by Lin Jin-chia

 

Rev Collin Cowan(behind the podium), General Secretary of Council of World Mission, challenged PCT whether she is ready to speak out the prophetic voice and fight for the marginalized such as immigrant labors in Taiwan society?

Photo by Lin Yi-yin

 
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Taiwan Church News

3390 Edition

February 13 - 19, 2017

Headline News

 

228 Massacre Event Revisited From The Freedom Of Speech And Alternative Perspectives

 

Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong

 

When Mr Cheng Nan-jung, a defiant warrior for the freedom of speech and the self-immolated martyr for Taiwan independence, launched his renown Freedom Era Weekly in March 1984, his declaration about the mission of this weekly magazine is still haunting in Taiwan society: "[its mission is] fighting for 100% freedom of speech!", Cheng Nan-jung resolutely pledged then.

On February 11, a special exhibition, entitled as "Breaking the taboos of expressions - Cheng Na-jung x 228", was held at Cheng Nan-jung Liberty Museum in order to remind Taiwan society there are still many alternative perspectives to learn about this historical 228 massacre event. Mr Hsu Jang-hsien, chairman of Cheng Nan-jung Foundation, hoped this exhibition could help heal and renewal Taiwan toward a healthy tomorrow.

A press conference was held before the opening of the significant exhibition, as it also marked the 30th anniversary of the first ever street demonstration, occurred at Tainan City on 5 April 1987, protesting the government's illegal confiscation of the weekly publications of the 1835 edition of Taiwan Church News(TCN).

Many important participants of this street demonstration were invited to witness this historical protest related to 228 massacre event, including Lawyer Lee Seng-hsiung, Rev Lin Chong-zeng, Elder Hwang Chao-kai, and several others. Rev Fang Lang-ting, representing Taiwan Church Press, was also specially invited to deliver a message.

Rev Fang Lang-ting expressed, the reason why Taiwan Garrison Command(TCG) forcibly broke into Taiwan Church Press to confiscate the weekly publications of TCN on 20 February 1987, was that some articles about 228 massacre were printed inside TCN's 1835 edition and its special supplement - "A Living Way".

TCG's savage intrusion into Taiwan Church Press prompted a big furore among Taiwan churches and resulted into a big rally of church members asking the government to return those church publications, Rev Fang remarked, adding that the mayor of Tainan City finally apologized publicly and those confiscated publications were reprinted by TCG and returned back to Taiwan Church Press.

Quoting Cheng Nan-jung's inspiring saying, "I am Cheng Nan-jung, and I propose Taiwan independence", uttered in a public speech in 1987 and risked a possible charge of death penalty as Taiwan was still under martial law then, Rev Fang affirmed Cheng's fearless braveness to challenge the taboos of expression and speak out the truth as this is the authentic calling and the quintessential spirit for a free media!

How should Taiwan society guard against the threats to the freedom of the speech? Rev Fang suggested that Voltaire's opinion, paraphrased as "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", deserves to be accommodated as a common value among us.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 

Many important participants of PCT's demonstration, occurred at Tainan City on 5 April 1987, were invited to witness this 30th anniversary's protest related to 228 massacre event, including Lawyer Lee Seng-hsiung(3rd from right), Rev Lin Chong-zeng(2nd from left), Elder Hwang Chao-kai(2nd from right), and several others. Rev Fang Lang-ting(1st from left), representing Taiwan Church Press, was specially invited to deliver a message. Mrs Yeh Chu-lan(3rd from left), widow of Cheng Nan-jung, also came to greet old friends at the site of exhibition on 11 February 2017.

Photo by Chiu Kuo-rong

 
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